No pretensions, no big talk, Velayudham (U) simply enters and entertains! A commercial pot boiler, it makes no bones about being so. The honesty appeals. The makers are clear about their target audience and have gone all out to satisfy them. And it is to the credit of M. Raja that he has come out of the brother-directs-brother mould to direct his first film with a hero of Vijay's stature and churn out reasonably engaging fare.
Raja shows acumen in packaging all the essential ingredients in proportions that are just right for the hero of the masses, thus highlighting the positives of Vijay. Velayudham, despite being a complete commercial capsule, rises above norms to offer some food for thought. Preaching is forthright, but the film isn't cluttered with messages. The protagonist shakes the public out of their stupor and superhero syndrome telling them not to always expect a saviour to march in and solve their problems. Be self-dependent, is the message. A thought new to our superhero tales that encompass even the Superman and Spiderman series!
A brother with extreme love for the sister, a lover who has the heroine chasing him throughout and not the other way round, a hero who rises in fury against injustice and a fun-loving friend in the company of the comedian — this is the kind of leading man who has emerged successful from the days of MGR. The formula works even now and could be lapped up by Vijay fans all over. The premise that begins on a serendipitous note isn't new. Neither are the characters. It is in treatment that Raja makes a mark.
As a performer, Vijay may not have had too many opportunities to prove his capability, because he's seen as a complete package with deftness in every department. Yet whenever scope is offered he has done justice to performance-oriented roles. The tragic moments in Velayudham are an example — his angst, anger and grief look genuine.
Hansika should heave a sigh of relief. After a few also-rans, Velayudham could help her Tamil film career sail smoothly. But the role per se is an exasperating stereotype! So is Charanya Mohan's. Like all sisters in cinema who have doting brothers, her pranks are childish. So when you suddenly see her as a bride, it's a surprise! Comparatively, Genelia's character is on a much higher plane and the actor, a journalist in the film, plays a pivotal part in taking the story forward. Women enhance the aesthetic appeal of Velayudham.
The technical team that includes cinematographer Priyan is formidable. Velayudham should be a milestone in action choreographer Silva's career — the fight on the train, in particular. You've seen such spine-chillers atop trains in our own films from the days of Murattu Kaalai, but with special effects of the present day the sequence showcases the expertise behind the execution. Certain portions of the editing seem to have been done in haste — the trick that Velayudham tries to play on his fiancée is a glaring example.
Vijay Antony's background score helps maintain the tempo of Velayudham on even keel. And aurally and visually ‘Mulachu Moonu' is a bewitching sequence. But why do certain parts of the ‘Raththathin Raththamae' song have to remind you of the yesteryear MSV hit from Ramu, ‘Muthu Chippi Mella Mella'?
Velayudham should work for Vijay, mainly because it has a strong story, a neat screenplay, (though it could have been pruned — the film runs well past the two hour-30 minute mark!) arresting action, admirable dance movements, one or two hum-worthy numbers and the ever-helpful sister sentiment.
If you can forget the couple of Santhanam's gross takes, Velayudham offers some healthy humour. A battalion of comedians criss-cross the screen and each gives you enough to laugh about. Incidentally, Santhanam had better watch out — he shows signs of getting into a rut where humour begins and ends with abusing the father and getting scatological.
Whether the story is inspired or entirely original isn't the question. Whether Vijay's fans are served a sumptuous meal is. The answer is, they are.
Director: M. Raja
Cast: Vijay, Genelia, Hansika, Charanya Mohan, Santhanam
Storyline: The larger-than-life hero serendipitously averts tragedies in the city. But revenge-seekers are on the prowl.
Bottomline: You get what you know you would — action unplugged!